WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS?
Meditation.dk is read by only a select few, and this chapter on
consciousness won't likely boost its popularity. In essence,
everything on Meditation.dk revolves around consciousness. This
chapter explores my initial, tentative knocks on the Doors of
Perception, behind which lies an infinite series of doors.
In my view, consciousness is one of the most challenging
phenomena to understand and describe. As a result, this chapter
is continually revised, and I may never be entirely satisfied
Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive
impossible to specify what
it is, what it does, or why it evolved.
Nothing worth reading has been written
Since childhood, I have been obsessed with the question: Who
and what am I? I began to ponder this with crossed legs at the tender age of
3 after a tourist visit with my parents to a Buddhist temple in Burma. After
that visit, I began to sit and ponder, as you can see in the photo below.
The mystery of who am I?
When you gaze long into
the abyss also gazes into you.
This lifelong journey of self-inquiry has lead me to be Conscious about the fact
that Consciousness can only be investigated by Consciousness itself. Am 'I'
looking at consciousness or is consciousness looking at 'me'?
Consciousness is the fundamental mysterious presence in which everything appears.
Even Consciousness appears only in Consciousness. Yet, it is hidden in plain sight. That is why Kabir
said: I smile when I hear the fish in the ocean are crying for water.
What is 'redness'?
What is 'redness'? From ancient times to the present day, no one has managed to
provide a satisfactory answer. The mystery deepens when we
consider what within us perceives 'redness.' What percieves in
us is prior to redness. Consciousness is a mystery in which the
mystery of redness takes place.
Nonetheless, we use the word 'consciousness' in everyday
conversations as if it were the most natural thing in the
world—as if we all know precisely what it means. Furthermore, we
extend the term to encompass concepts such as gender
consciousness, class consciousness, and race consciousness,
Consciousness was groomed to look out
The surprising gap in our knowledge about ourselves can likely
be explained by Darwinism. Consciousness was meant to look
outward, optimizing our chances of survival. There has been no
significant evolutionary advantage to looking inward... until
It may be advantageous from an evolutionary perspective to
overestimate what we know, as we often do when less awake. This
peculiar form of ossification is known as the
effect. An ego that constantly questions itself, might run dry
of calories before a Dunning Kruger ego.
Roosevelt and Socrates
In order to give space to other
boxes of realities than our own, first of all, we must realize
that we do not know much. Socrates proclaimed: I seem, then, in
just this little thing to be wiser than this man at any rate,
that what I do not know I do not think I know either. More than
2000 years later, Roosevelt said: Never underestimate a man who
overestimates himself. Maybe the most dangerous overestimation
is created in the unawareness of what we do not know. In fact,
the world is, to a large extent, ruled by such mindsets.
SCIENCE AND THE CONSCIOUSNESS CONUNDRUM
Every science is function of the psyche, and all knowledge is
rooted in it.
The psyche is the greatest of all cosmic wonders and is the
sine qua non
of the world as an object. It is the highest degree odd that
with but a few - and ever fewer - exceptions, apparantly pays so
to this fact. Swamped by the knowledge of external objects, the
subject of all
knowledge has been temporarily eclipsed to the point of seeming
C.G.Jung - On the Nature of the Psyche, 1946
For years, I struggled to read mainstream science's take on
consciousness—it seemed too simplistic. The following excerpt
from Wikipedia illustrates the issue, as science unwittingly
reduces consciousness to primitive neurophysiological processes
in the brain:
The illustration is borrowed
from Wikipedia, where the image is predictably titled "Neural
Correlates OF Consciousness" in a Western context. In the chosen
Eastern perspective presented here, I would like to rephrase it
as: "Neural Correlates IN Consciousness."
However, this explanation is just
as insufficient as measuring the frequency of the red color
spectrum to understand what redness is. But science is
satisfied; a measurement has been made.
The image titled "Neural Correlates of Consciousness" would
be better phrased as "Neural Correlates in Consciousness."
Describing consciousness as a product of neural correlates is
like defining a mirror by the content reflected in it.
When science claims it can explain everything within old-school
positivism's paradigms, it effectively replaces religious
storytelling with new fairy tales. The scientist, in this case,
becomes a priest. A fundamental fact is that no person,
including scientists, can remove themselves as emotionally
fragile, human observers from the scientific equation. Like
anyone else, they'll interpret facts in sync with their own or
their clan's survival.
The Uncharted Territory of
Consciousness in Western Science
When it comes to the enigma of consciousness, our collective
unknowing is almost absurd. We fundamentally don't know what
consciousness is, and the wisest approach would be to
acknowledge our ignorance:
Time and again, it amazes me how nearly every Westerner, from
the layperson to the scientist and philosopher, uses the term
"consciousness" as if it were a known entity. The Western,
positivist-trained mind tends to quantify consciousness in terms
of measurement, without realizing that they have no real
understanding of what consciousness truly is. Consciousness is
often either downplayed in importance or relegated to dead-end
This obliviousness to our own ignorance is, in fact, a product
of unconsciousness itself. The Western scientific mind is highly
intelligent but simultaneously deeply unconscious when it comes
to consciousness. However, science is somehow aware of the gap
between measurements and qualia. They call it the "hard problem".
The Hard Problem of Science
The hard problem of consciousness lies in the explanatory gap
between physical processes and our experience of them within the
framework of neuroscience. Physical processes, such as
perceiving a red circle, can be broken down into a series of
simpler problems relating the physical object (i.e., color and
form) to the brain processes responsible for processing them.
Similarly, the perception of more complex forms, such as a
house, can be broken down into a series of hierarchically
organized brain processes in the visual cortices that add
increasing complexity to the visual construct that eventually
emerges as a house. These processes, which together compile the
visual construct of the house, can be considered a series of
building blocks from a reductionist perspective - a series of
The hard problem of consciousness arises because the
phenomenological experience, the qualia, or the subjective
experience of that house cannot be logically arranged on such a
continuum. There is no known brain process at the end of the series of
processes responsible for the experience of the house, thus
breaking the chain of logic. This also raises the question of
the purpose of experience. Why do we have subjective
experiences? Brain research can provide a very precise
explanation down to the square millimeter of tissue responsible
for perceiving the color red, but it can say surprisingly little
about how red is experienced. It seems that the brain has all
the mechanisms to make the physical world available to human
experience, but the experience itself is not part of the same
In recent years, there has been significant positive progress in
the exploration of consciousness within science, psychology, and
philosophy. I won't delve into this here, but I will recommend
Annaka Harris's book, "Conscious," which brilliantly compiles
the finest achievements of predominantly Western consciousness
research and arranges them into her unique bouquet. Annaka
Harris basically defines consciousness as having an experience.
Again I pose the question: What is "redness"? Can it be
understood by its quantified correlates as they can be measured
in the brain? Even more mysterious than redness is its
appearance in consciousness. To reduce consciousness to the
phenomenon of having an experience is to stand in opposition to
When I sit in meditation with young people, they have all
kinds of internal experiences, some of them even psychedelic in
nature, like light, sound, and visions. Then they asked me: And
what did you experience? I say: Nothing.
Therefore I claim: As long as you have an experience, you have
not discovered consciousness. In fact, experiences are in
opposition to consciousness.
Embracing the Unknown
The more unintelligent a man is,
the less mysterious existence seems to him.
For me, knowing what I don't know is more important than knowing
what I do. This awareness allows me to consciously recognize the
limits of my knowledge in any given subject. Clarity emerges as
a byproduct of expanded consciousness when we perceive it as a
function of our ability to process information. As consciousness
grows through experiencing larger amounts of data, we become
aware of the darkness and the grey zones between darkness and
A Nobel scientist may have underdeveloped faculties for
harboring consciousness, while a highly conscious person might
not score above average on an IQ test. Consciousness likely
involves different brain wiring and areas than traditional
Western-conditioned intelligence. Some of the most successful
people I've encountered had high IQs and EQs but lacked what I
would call CQ - a quantified measure of consciousness related to brain
The Wisdom of Knowing Unknowing
Philosophers are indeed wise
enough, but they lack wisdom.
Life has taught me one tough
lesson: it's good to know something. As Warren Buffet says, The
more you learn, the more you earn.
However, it's even better to learn what you have ot learned.
I always strive to know what I don't know, so I don't risk
diving into discussions or projects where I'm out of my depth,
thinking I'm an expert. Roosevelt's famous words, "Never
underestimate a person who overestimates themselves," primarily
remind me to be aware of my ignorance. It's so frustrating to
talk to someone who hasn't factored in their own lack of
Recognizing one's limitations is wisdom, which, in this sense,
is opposite to knowledge. A wise and knowledgeable person seeks
an expanded overview that encompasses their own and others'
subjectivity as part of the bigger picture. This objectification
is inherently subjective but remains an essential pursuit in the
eternal search for what is true enough. We may never grasp the
thing-in-itself, but we can always come closer to something
truer than yesterday's truth.
When the persuit of coming closer to today's truth is followed
by a growing realization of what we do not know, it for me is a
sign of an expanding Consciousness. Meister Eckhart says: In Unknowing Knowing, We Know
I will in this context dare to reformulate my favorite
mystic: In Knowing Unknowing, We Know
Not-knowing is wisdom.
We're neck-deep in ignorance
The fundament upon which all our knowledge
and learning rest is inexplicable.
The first and foremost thing to
'unknow' is consciousness. We don't know what consciousness is, but are we aware that
we don't know it?
I claim that meditation expands consciousness, but I don't know
what consciousness is.
We're unknown to ourselves, often without realizing it...
Truly the most wonderfully absurd self-overestimation.
We know the world but don't know the knower, and we're unaware
Truly the greatest joke of all existence.
Discovering this astonishing ignorance is the first, and perhaps
the most significant, step we can take. Receding knowledge makes
way for growing wisdom.
The surprising gap in our knowledge about ourselves can likely
be explained by Darwinism. Consciousness was meant to look
outward, optimizing our chances of survival. There has been no
significant evolutionary advantage to looking inward... until
The Enigmatic Nature of
Consciousness from an Evolutionary Standpoint
Even when viewed through the lens of evolutionary biology,
consciousness remains an enigma. Throughout history, spiritual
luminaries who have lived on the peripheries of society—saints,
ascetics, and sages—have not particularly excelled at the
Darwinian game of survival and reproduction. For instance,
Shiva, the Hindu god associated with meditation, has no
offspring, and wise sages are seldom noted for prolifically
passing on their genes.
My digital counterpart, GPT-4, appears to lack consciousness but
can compose sophisticated essays effortlessly. This seeming
"unconsciousness of Consciousness" might be attributed to its
lack of Darwinian utility, especially in the primal sense of
gathering resources. Evolutionary systems prioritize energy
efficiency, and the metabolic cost of equipping organisms with
self-reflective consciousness would be prohibitively high.
From this perspective, even rudimentary forms of consciousness
seem superfluous and inexplicable as products of natural
selection. Rigorous empirical science struggles to identify any
survival benefits conferred by consciousness. Why would genes
gain an evolutionary edge by acquiring awareness? Might not
artificial, yet unconscious, entities prove just as capable in
the evolutionary race as conscious biological beings? While some
argue that metacognition is crucial for survival, this
self-reflective capacity might not necessarily require
consciousness; it could be just an advanced feedback mechanism,
a feature already present in artificial intelligence systems.
Contrastingly, the spiritual sage Nisargadatta Maharaj, an
illiterate cigar merchant from Bombay, posits that the very
purpose of existence is to expand, preserve, and amplify
consciousness. In his view, the emergence and complexity of
consciousness are natural consequences of intricate
self-referential systems. The human brain, with its astounding
internal connectivity that surpasses even the number of
particles in the universe, represents the epitome of such
Given its intricate nature, the human brain is perhaps the most
energy-intensive biological phenomenon we know of. Why then does
it exhibit a higher form of consciousness than its simpler
animal predecessors? Personally, I am disinclined to dismiss
consciousness as a mere evolutionary aberration. Although I
can't offer a logical proof for this conviction, it aligns with
Nisargadatta's perspective, rendering the opposing notion—that
consciousness is meaningless—equally a matter of belief.
Consciousness is in fact Scrödinger's cat. Is it dead or
alive or both?
The notion that consciousness is akin to Schrödinger's cat—a
thought experiment in quantum mechanics where a cat is both
alive and dead until observed—captures the enigmatic qualities
of consciousness itself. Like the cat in the box, consciousness
presents a paradox, existing in a superposition of states that
evade easy categorization.
A CAT FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION
No problem can be solved from the same
level of consciousness that created it.
I recently read Holger Bech Nielsen and Jonas Kuld Rathje's
excellent book, "The Theory of Everything," with great
enthusiasm. Bech Nielsen describes how inhabitants of a
two-dimensional world would experience the visit of a cat from a
three-dimensional reality. First, the two-dimensional beings
would see four black circles, followed by a large oval blot that
eventually shrinks to a small black dot on one side of the oval.
As I read this passage, I wondered why the cat's experience of
the same visit wasn't also examined. The mutual experience of
the two dimensions encountering each other is the perfect
illustration of consciousness visiting our lower three-dimensional
reality. We can't understand consciousness for the same reasons
the two-dimensional inhabitants couldn't understand the cat.
Consciousness is a guest from a reality with more dimensions
than our space-time reality possesses.
Science's attempt to understand consciousness as a product of
mathematical algorithms is subject to the same conditions as the
inhabitants of the two-dimensional world trying to understand
the cat from the three-dimensional space. It's almost touchingly
During my college years, on a wet night out, I was presented
with the following challenge: create four equilateral triangles
with six matches.
The Puzzle of Higher Dimensions
I tried and tried, unsuccessfully, to solve the
riddle until the owner of the matches elegantly arranged them into a pyramid.
Habitually, I had searched for a solution in a two-dimensional plane, where no
solution was possible. Only by introducing an extra height dimension was a
solution possible, and in such a simple way that I had to shake my head in
Consciousness - a visitor from higher
Anyone who has experienced a eureka
moment in meditation will instinctively understand the impossibility of
translating the reality of a multi-dimensional world into a 'lower' dimension.
Just as with the matchstick puzzle, the extra dimension means an impossible
problem can be solved in a simple way. For those of you who have not had such an
experience, this may sound like nonsensical gibberish, but don't despair.
Nowadays, it's possible to catch a glimpse of realities that are impossible or
extremely difficult to translate into our familiar world through the use of
entheogens. One of my friends said after an ayahuasca journey to Peru: I could write an entire book about
just one second on this inner journey. A second was like a million years.
We will be unaware of any dimension higher than the three we know. We would not
be able to understand it.
Every human brain is in this sense a portal to where dimensions have a peep into
a lower realm. We live in a four dimension world. place time
what does not make sense in our dimension might make sense in higher dimensions,
It may be that these four dimensions are apearing to us while we
are embedded in higher dimension realities -
The human intellect is not sufficient to decode the universe it lives in
To the extent that we, as biological beings in time and space, want to explore
our own consciousness, we are subject to the same conditions as the scientist
trying to capture the spirit in a bottle in their test tube. It's quite fair and
square, as long as we remember to acknowledge all that we don't know. This
humility makes knowledge a subset of wisdom, not the other way around. Without
this meta-wisdom, the positivistic scientist, in their self-imagined certainty,
becomes what they have historically fought against since the Middle Ages: a
preacher of religion.
CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE
and the West
before the days of enlightenment
East is East, and West is West,
and never the twain
Thanks to the scientific
breakthroughs in the West we were able to bring more food to the
table than other cultures. However, there was a trade off. We
became spiritually stupid.
The West's philosophic and scientific elite, as
seen through Eastern eyes, has confused the content of
consciousness with consciousness itself.
This becomes evident in Descartes' famous statement:
Cogito, ergo sum - I think, therefore I am.
Here, consciousness is made identical to the thinking mind.
In contrast, the wise sages of the East, particularly those from
India, would assert:
Non cogito, ergo sum - I do not think, therefore I am.
The Indian sage Sri Ramana
Maharshi would smile indulgently at Descartes and pose the
What is it that observes the thoughts?
What is it that remains when the stream of thoughts quiets down?
In the captivating world of Indian
philosophy, the thinking 'I' is seen as nothing more than a veil
shrouding our true nature - Consciousness itself. The renowned
Indian mystic, Sri Aurobindo, beautifully expressed this idea:
True knowledge is not attained by thinking. It is what you
This statement is based on introspection. However,
it stops with the observation of the thinking mind. A pointer from
the chain-smoking Indian shopkeeper,
Nisargadatta Maharaj would have helped Decartes go a little
further in his quest:
Watch your thoughts and watch yourself watching
Interestingly, Descartes's famous statement still holds true
when viewed from the perspective of the ego. Meister Eckhart, a
wise mystic, explained that our first divisive thought is rooted
All creatures contain one reflection: one, that is the denial
of its being the other; the highest of the angels denies he is
the lowest. God is the denial of denials.
As we let go of this initial conceptual denial of being the
other, the identity we cling to dissolves into a vast expansion,
leaving behind the omnipresent Consciousness.
During a soul-searching journey into the hidden realms of Indian
wisdom, I engaged in a thought-provoking discussion with my
friend and mentor, Bhaharadwaj. With a knowing smile, he
suggested a more profound question to ponder:
What is it that witnesses the thoughts? What remains when the
mind is still and the senses are silenced?
With a twinkle in his eye, my ever-joyful spiritual mentor
brought up James Joyce's famous book, "Stream of Consciousness."
Bhaharadwaj had been a lecturer in philosophy and English
literature at the University of Lahore before the partition in
1947. In his youth, he was captivated by this literary
Years later, his Consciousness underwent a sudden and profound
transformation, expanding in both intensity and quality. It was
then that he saw the irony in the title of Joyce's iconic work.
He explained with a smile, "There is no stream of Consciousness.
There is only ego-fuss in Consciousness. Consciousness is the
primordial essence, existing beyond the mind's movements. The
title of the book should have been rephrased to:
Stream of Thoughts IN
Bhaharadwaj IN consciousness
At the time the picture was taken,
he was 90 years old. Bhaharadwaj was one of the most loving and
joyful people I have ever met, and on top of that, he was
incredibly intelligent. He knew western philosophy better than
me, not to speak about Indian philosophy.
India, a land of wonders, mysteries, and paradoxes, captured my
heart and soul as I spent years there on a quest for
What did India have in store for me?
In essence, nothing... But I wasn't disappointed.
As Meister Eckhart once said, If a man who seeks nothing finds
nothing, what has he to complain? After all, he has found what
Indeed, I found precisely what I sought, and Bhaharadwaj was not
the only 'nothing' that guided me towards understanding
In the eyes of this enchanting
woman from Punjab, there's an absence of anyone or anything on
the left, while on the right, there's the presence of someone
and something. She was a friend of Bhaharadwaj, and in the photo
on the right, I knew her as Sita.
Indians, until recently, possessed a remarkable ability to
transition between deep depersonalization and full human
engagement. Their unique form of depersonalization, unlike the
detached expressions often seen in Western public spaces, delved
much deeper, as evidenced by the gaze in the left image above.
At any given moment, they could switch into a zero-mode. Sadly,
this fascinating ability has largely vanished in modern India,
with the growing middle class losing this conscious zero-mode to
the hypnotic pull of their smartphones.
Yet, the traditional Indian zero-mode can still occasionally be
glimpsed in the faces and postures of the less fortunate. Just
before the COVID pandemic, I was walking through the bustling
Main Bazaar in New Delhi and witnessed a scene all too familiar
from my years in India. An impatient, overweight middle-class
man, stuck in traffic on a cycle rickshaw, began berating and
striking the rickshaw driver. With no means of fighting back,
the driver withdrew into depersonalization, becoming a lifeless
puppet, enduring the blows without even raising his hands in
defense. In times past in Europe, one might have said, "He bears
his cross." But in reality, he wasn't suffering; he had simply
vanished from the stage of life, retreating into his own
timeless inner sanctuary. It was India's low caste people, the
Dalits, who taught me the true essence of meditation: a survival
strategy, an escape into pure Consciousness.
From the dawn of their ancient culture, Indians have focused on
exploring nothingness and non-existence, while the ancient
Greeks and later Western civilizations concentrated on
These two opposing approaches to life can be viewed as survival
strategies. In the West, we attempt to solve problems by
addressing them directly, whereas in India, problems are
resolved by declaring that they don't exist. The world is
considered empty, and problems are perceived as illusions of
Maya. There is no need for outward action – a shift in
perspective is all it takes to solve the issue.
India is filled with anecdotes highlighting this focus on
non-existence. For instance, an Indian yogi was once giving a
lecture on the top floor of a multi-story building in Tokyo,
Japan. Suddenly, a small earthquake made the entire building
tremble. People fled in panic, but the yogi remained motionless
in his lotus position, eyes closed. When the tremors subsided
and people returned, they asked him why he hadn't fled the
building. He replied, While you were fleeing out, I was fleeing
What led the Indian yogi to react so differently? There are many
factors, but the fundamental societal mechanism likely stems
from the caste system's extreme fragmentation of Indian society.
When the Islamic invader Muhammad Ghori and his army were
stationed outside Delhi's city walls at sunset, he inquired
about the numerous fire camps within the Indian army quarter.
His advisors explained that they were the fireplaces for
preparing food. Surprised by the multitude of small kitchens, he
asked for an explanation. The advisors informed him that the
Indians couldn't eat together due to their caste divisions.
Muhammad Ghori smiled and said, "Then I have won the war!"
People who cannot eat together cannot fight together, and in a
broader context, they cannot overcome societal catastrophes
through collective unity. As a result, India has been one of the
most catastrophe-prone regions for the past 3,000 years. The
country has been vulnerable to invasions, monsoon failures, and
a lack of state-built infrastructures like water tanks and
irrigation systems. Indians even developed a "starvation gene"
that allowed them to better withstand hunger compared to other
populations. This context lends meaning to the Indian invention
of meditation. Unable to overcome external challenges, Indians
would instead sit down, adapt, and/or change themselves. The
image below illustrates how this mental strategy has permeated
India, even influencing Indian road construction:
Only in India can one find this type of road marking.
On the very same roads, one can observe the stoic calmness of
rickshaw drivers caugth in a traffic jam:
Trafic jam outside Main Bazar, Delhi
The Indian escapes into himself to depersonalize himself into
nothing. When you have deconstructed yourself into a pure zero,
external obstacles or disasters do not matter.
In the East, the searchlight was thus directed inward. Even
today in India, this difference is clearly observable. Every
time an obstacle arises, the Indian does not remove it. He
adapts. One can observe this zero culture in the faces of the
eternally destitute rickshaw man in the streets of New Delhi. He
is not really present in his facial features, for if he were,
his life would be unbearable.
On my trekkings in the Indian Himalayas I sometimes observed
hermits walking naked in the snow. These ascetics were able to control and rise
their body temperature to such an extend that they could survive
the icy cold climate at these altitudes.
It was my Indian trekking partner who took this photo. Out of
courtesy he only took a photo of the upper part of this naked sadhu.
In India the denial of the reality the world has taken many
cultural forms. Displayed in the photo below is a young ascetic who
day and night is keeping his arm up in the air. After some years it will fall
off due to the lack of blood flow. What the young man demonstrates by such an act
is a synthesis of extreme body control and denial of the same.
Young sadhu from Rihiksh holding up his arm day and night
One of the most crucial meditative
survival adaptations is the ability to survive on minimal
resources, with food being the most important. During periods of
food scarcity, Indian people would sit down for thousands of
years, close their eyes, and enter a low-calorie mode. What were
they doing there? They were waiting - waiting for something they
could not control. They were waiting for the rain. In this
state, they prolonged their chances to survive to see for better times or
they reached a point where
they embraced their destiny as a dream, not to be taken
Meditation was discovered as a low calorie waiting survival
Meditation in this low-calorie state leads to an
expansion of consciousness in both quality and quantity. There
appears to be an evolutionary link between brain optimization
and calorie restriction, as in times of food scarcity, we needed
to be smarter to survive. However, in the Indian version of
meditation, this brain optimization is channeled into conscious
passivity rather than hunting prey. This mechanism demonstrates
how humans, through storytelling and intersubjective realities,
can repurpose genetic programs in ways they weren't originally
"intended" for. The yogis portrayed above are extreme examples
of such cultural survival adaptations.
Numerous stories from India and Tibet describe yogis who could
live without food for months, with some even claiming to live
without food entirely. Whether these stories are true or not is
not the main concern. What matters is that they emphasize the
cultural significance of surviving on minimal calorie intake.
In reading the books available about the famous Indian saint
Ramakrishna, I found the stories of his impoverished parents
particularly interesting. These accounts offer a glimpse into
not only yogis using meditation as a low-calorie technique but
also the practices of poor Indian farmers during times of
scarcity. As the saying goes in Zen Buddhism: To lose is to
win. To win is to lose.
I once made a freudian slip that makes sense in this context. I
The higher you fall, the deeper
Through the impact of catastrophes, Indians discovered the holy
grail of consciousness. In this sense we are captives of our
geography, of the land we lived for geerations.
The Indian Witness of
Consciousness ... & Meister Eckhart
The Western traditions of science and philosophy have largely
overlooked the wealth of ancient Indian mystical traditions.
In ancient Indian philosophy, it is posited that Consciousness,
not material objects, forms the foundation of everything else.
According to the mirror analogy, they view this Consciousness as
separate from the world of objects and senses, taking the form
of a detached witness of experience.
Two birds, inseparable
companions, perch on the same tree; one eats the fruit, the
other looks on. The first bird is our individual self-feeding on
the pleasures and pains of his deeds; The other is the universal
self, silently witnessing all. - Mandukya Upanishad 3.1.1
However, hidden keys for understanding
Consciousness can also be found in Western mysticism. The same
understanding of separation is present in Meister Eckhart's
... there are
in everyone two men: one, the outward man, is his objective
nature; the man is served by the five senses, albeit he is
energized by the power of the soul. The other, the inner man, is
man's subjective nature... Take an illustration. The door goes
to and fro upon its hinges. Now the projecting door I liken to
the outward man and the hinge I liken to the inner man. As it
shuts and opens, the door swings to and fro while the hinge
remains unmoved in the same place without undergoing any change.
To be unmoved is to be free from
experience, as experience is what moves you. Consciousness makes
experience possible in our brains, but it is, in itself, like
the hinge or a mirror detached from experience.
However, even understanding Consciousness as a detached witness
is only a step further into a mystery shrouded in darkness, as a
witness also has an experience - the experience of witnessing.
When Annaka Harris points towards experience, it is not without
insight. Nothing describable in time and space is as closely
correlated with Consciousness as experience. Experience is a
footprint left by the invisible thief. It is the interface
between the higher-dimensional, and thus incomprehensible,
Consciousness and our three-dimensional world.
So how can we come closer to the phenomenon of Consciousness?
Precisely because Consciousness is the primordial foundation of
everything, including itself, there can never be a satisfying
scientific, positivist-based explanation for the phenomenon of
Consciousness. This quest can be likened to a detective
investigating a crime he himself has committed.
That, however, does not mean that we should not try.
One of my favorite spiritual inspirators, Papaji, once said:
My whole life,
I have wanted to kiss her, but I have never seen Her.
He was speaking about
Consciousness and his passionate relationship with it.
The Mirror and the Reflected
As images are seen in a mirror,
so the universe
is an image in the mirror of Consciousness.
Tripura Rahasya XL verses 53-54
Let us again return to western
understanding of consciousness
reached through observations
Figuratively speaking, it is like
trying to understand a mirror based on a description of the
content reflected in the mirror. In the West, we have
fundamentally not discovered the mirror itself but have focused
on examining the reflected object.
For those who have turned themselves around in meditation, this
misunderstanding of consciousness will appear naive. In
meditation, I must conclude that the Western empirical attempts
to understand the phenomenon of consciousness have been weighed
and found wanting. The Indian perspective on existence is far
wiser: You are NOT what is being observed, neither thoughts nor
external objects. You are much closer to the observer itself.
Spiritual Indian Aid
Let's face it. It doesn't take much experience in meditation to
realize that since ancient times, up to but not including the
time of Indian TV gurus, Indians have been more advanced in
Accepting that with our Western culture, which perceives itself
as superior (something we don't like to say out loud, but deep
down take for granted), we need both spiritual and philosophical
aid, is difficult to accept.
The Black Death of Consciousness
However, in the West, we haven't always been as spiritually
illiterate as we are today. This strange unacknowledged
ignorance began only when we succeeded in transforming the world
technologically after the Black Death in the 14th century. We
put food on the table, but as the English say: There is no such
thing as a free breakfast. We did not become both satiated and
wise in this trade-off between spirit and body. Fat and
self-satisfied, confidently believing ourselves superior to
other cultures to such an extent that we even had the right to
colonize them, we laid ourselves down to sleep spiritually like
In the 13th century, however, we had spiritual lighthouses that
could measure up to the heights of the East's wise men at any
time. Put on the edge, one could say that the plague killed off
our western tradition of qualified understanding of
consciousness. Therefore, in the following, I will also quote our own
pre-plague mystics. A good place to pick up the lost Western thread is in
Meister Eckhart's wonderful world of words.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of meditation is that introspection can
'unintentionally' reveal our absolute unknowing, and with this unknowing, our
illusion of control over ourselves and the world is removed.
Based on my own experiences with meditation, I will now argue: Only in
relatively 'higher,' intensified states of consciousness can one catch a glimpse
of what consciousness is, and even then, only the aspects of consciousness that
are 'lower' in relation to the 'higher' states.
By leaving the flock, one becomes outstanding
The object of life is not to be
on the side of the majority,
but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.
We humans are outstanding in the sense that we are aware that we are human.
Therefore, there must be something unknown within us that has already
transcended our human standpoint. In this unknown dwells the invisible
consciousness that both is and is not.
Just as a dog doesn't know it's a dog, consciousness cannot know itself until it
has risen above itself. Only by transcending the state one is in can one see
where one came from. A simple example of this can be seen in the meta-conscious
aha moment when one suddenly realizes that they were on the wrong track.
Only by leaving oneself can one recognize oneself. Only those who are strangers
to themselves can see themselves. Only the outsider can find himself inside.
LET THE HUNT FOR CONSCIOUSNESS BEGIN
All philosophies are mental
There has never been a single doctrin
by which one could enter the true essence of things.
This spirit knows no time nor number:
number does not exist apart from the malady of time.
After this long introductory
deconstruction of consciousness and Western pride, it's now time to begin the
hunt for consciousness. Meditation is the pursuit that leads to insight into our
own ignorance of consciousness. However, let me remind myself and the patient
reader: In this hunt for consciousness we will not even get near
to the essential mystery it present. However, we will get a
little nearer by describing more subtle qualia living in closer
proximity to the black hole of consciousness. If our experience
of unknowing does not expand even more, we can be sure we are on
the wrong track.
No monad or triad can
express the all-transcending hiddenness
of the all-transcending superessentially superexisting superdeity.
345 - 407 AD
The Enigmatic Buddha's
In ancient Buddhist traditions, it was said that the Buddha
did not desire any personal representations. Consequently,
artists were only permitted to depict him indirectly through his
hands or feet. Interestingly, it was the Macedonian Greeks
residing in the long-lost Kingdom of Bactria who, upon
converting to Buddhism, crafted the first Buddha statues.
Accustomed to envisioning gods in human forms like Alexander the
Great, they shaped their Buddha and his perception in a similar
personal manner. This is why Buddha statues to this day are
adorned with Greek himations. The post-Alexandrian Greeks in the
east were pioneers in creating Buddha statues, inadvertently
causing the original message of the primordial invisibility of
the nirvanic realm to be obscured by the compassionate face of
In an intriguing sci-fi movie I once watched, a thief
managed to render himself invisible using advanced technology.
Despite his clever tactic, he was eventually caught when the
resourceful detectives laid wet paint on the floor, exposing his
footprints. While consciousness itself remains veiled, its
primordial impact on our reality is evident in the form of
footprints left in time and space. At the heart of individual
and cultural understanding and development lies the invisible
and location-less pillar of consciousness. Civilizations,
groups, and individuals rise and fall with the quality and
intensity of their consciousness and wakefulness.
The Challenging Enigma of the
Our relationship with
consciousness can be likened to the black eight ball in American
pool. In the game, players aim to pocket all their colored balls
before targeting the eight ball. If the eight ball is
accidentally pocketed before clearing the other balls, the
player loses the game. Hence, there's a saying associated with
the game: "
Always keep an
eye on the eight ball.
By and large, scientists can
explain the world in a mechanistic way, much like describing a
game of pool. However, when it comes to the eight ball of
consciousness, there's a general agreement that consciousness is
qualitatively different from sentient matter. Despite this, many
assume that consciousness, like any other ball, must follow the
mechanistic rules set by time and space. It's a challenging
enigma, but it seems solvable with the right measurements and
In this pursuit, the study of consciousness has shifted from the
realm of priests, mystics, and philosophers to the world of
brain scientists. As a result, the concept of "experience" has
become central to understanding consciousness. The once-daunting
problem of consciousness is now seemingly more approachable, as
experiences can be measured by their correlates in the brain.
Language in Consciousness
Theologicans may quarrel,
but the mystics of the world speak the same language.
When academically trained minds have tried to analyze
mysticism, they have often attempted to encapsulate words and
concepts from various traditions in order to demonstrate the
distance and incompatibility between Eastern and Western
mysticism, and between different mystics themselves. This, in my
opinion, futile effort is a necessary consequence of the
academically trained mind not having had personal consciousness
experiences that could be brought into play. It's not part of
the curriculum. The academic brain overestimates the
significance of the natural differences in mystical experience
that time, geography, and culture create. The academic reality's
fuel is to breed words in a reality that is already overcrowded
with words pointing to even more words in the world of words.
Imagine two competing candidates for a professorship at an
institute. One says with burning eyes and synchronous
theta-alpha-gamma waves in their frontal lobes: Everything is
one. We are all one with the common consciousness. After this
statement, the lecture is over. The other candidate has written
a thesis of several hundred pages pointing out how this or that
spiritual concept is different from another. There's no doubt
who will win in a time like ours, which favors knowledge over
I fondly remember my own time at Aarhus University, where we
critically analyzed Koans and Haiku poems. Of course, some
useful interpretive stuff came out of it, which one could later,
as an adjunct, say something smart in front of a group of high
school students. It just had nothing to do with the almost
explosive expansions of consciousness that at the time allowed
me to laser-like see these foreign poems' interference language
reveal itself intuitively in wonderful holographic teachings.
The fluid equal sign between God, Soul,
Emptiness, and Consciousness
For those who have had personal mystical
experiences, all mystics from all times appear as one trans-historical being
with one transpersonal experience. Differences give way to similarities.
Therefore, I cut a heel and clip a toe and, without hesitation, place a fluid
equal sign between consciousness, soul, emptiness, and God. Jesus' personal love
and Buddha's emptiness are one and the same.
Of course, there are culture- and history-dependent differences when
transpersonal experiences are boiled down into the language soup. For language
is created by individuals and non-transpersonal beings. Words originated as
intersubjective tools that, by the power of the collective, enabled us to
triumph on the savannah. It is difficult with fixed and precisely defined words
to penetrate the abstract dimension beyond the personal. That is why mystics of
all times and places have agreed on the difficulty of describing the mystical
Therefore, I suffer from my tongue's lack of
What happens within me, I know well,
but I cannot describe it.
The Theologian Simeon
We cannot describe consciousness objectively
solely because the same consciousness is the observer of what is to be observed.
What Gödel proved concerning the axioms of mathematics also applies to the
exploration of consciousness.
God is beyond all names, nothing can express
The innermost essence of the consciousness mystery
is fundamentally impossible to capture in the narrow-spectrum reality of words.
For this reason alone, it is futile to study mysticism from an academic
perspective. However, those who are experienced can thoughtfully attempt to
describe consciousness in images. Words that have recognized their own
limitations can indeed take small digs deeper into the primordial ground.
Therefore, despite their meta-cognitive knowledge of the project's
impossibility, mystics have time and again attempted to give the mystery a
linguistic form. Whether we read the Indian Upanishads, Meister Eckhart's
treatises, the Islamic Sufi anecdotes, the Zen Buddhist koans, or haiku poems,
we will find attempts to describe the mystery that, according to the young
Wittgenstein, one should remain silent about.
Every new research area eventually gives rise to its own
linguistic tool. The Western understanding of consciousness is
currently like a blacksmith trying to repair a smartphone with a
hammer. No blacksmith would be foolish enough to attempt it,
which further puts the image into perspective.
Just as quantum physics had to develop its own linguistic
conceptual universe far from the blacksmith's world, it is
necessary for the exploration of the phenomenon of consciousness
to develop its own language.
In English, the saying goes: It takes ONE to know ONE. The same
must apply to '0': It takes a zero to know a zero. Therefore,
the question is: Can I, as something at all, understand nothing?
Can nothing be described with words? Can 0 be described using
I will try to get as close as possible, describe it more
accurately in the same way that I can describe 1000 as 999
without using 0.
Not this - nor that
Following the paradoxical knockout of our verbal control
brain's attempts to understand the great nothing, we see the use
God is such that we understand him better through negation
Buddhism describes Nirvana based on what it is not. Nirvana is
the absence of samsara, of suffering. The Indian Advaita Vedanta
tradition, especially with Adi Shankara, continues this
tradition. Here, consciousness is characterized as:
Not this, (nor) that
The Indian mystic's description of the highest reality is
reminiscent, even down to the syntax, of that which the best of
the European medieval mystics had. Meister Eckhart says:
But now I say:
It is neither this nor that
Yet it is...
It is free from all names
emptied of all forms
The paradoxical formulation
The paradoxical formulation comes as a natural consequence
of words' inadequacy to stand at the center of attempts to
describe the indescribable. Zen Buddhism's koans and numerous
Sufi stories are built around the paradox.
Here comes one of Eckhart's contrapuntal minimalisms:
If I had a God I could understand,
He would no longer be my God.
From India's wise to the Islamic Sufi tradition, from Zen
Buddhism's koans to the European mystic masters - all are known
for the use of paradoxical statements, where a breakthrough from
reason is achieved by a kind of reductio ad absurdum.
The richness in poverty
To be nothing, to have nothing,
to keep nothing for oneself
is the greatest gift,
the highest generosity.
All is nothing
In mysticism, there is a long tradition of linguistically
describing the inner experience in the contrast between
everything and nothing.
God, because of His greatness,
rightly should be called Nothing.
Scotus Erigena (800-880)
Seeing nothing, he saw God.
My intellect tells me that I am nothing.
My heart says that I am everything.
Between these two poles, my life flows.
The luminous darkness
Meister Eckhart was a master in the art of conscious knowing of
unknowing. Hence I let him sum up what I want to say:
God's darkness is his nature which is unknowable.
The intuitive intellect senses, through the poetic
interfaces of language and the cracks opened by the paradox, the
unfathomable luminous darkness of metanoia in consciousness.
The light which is God is flowing and darkening every light.
Meister Eckhart (1260 -1328)
In mysticism, the rich and profound experiences are often
described in the context of contrasts such as everything and
nothing or light and darkness. The language of mysticism seeks
to convey these profound experiences through paradoxes and
metaphors, as words alone cannot capture the essence of these
great ZERO and God's non-existence
spirit knows no time nor number:
number does not exist apart from the malady of time.
How can one describe nothing?
Precisely as nothing. In this sense, consciousness is nothing,
equal to no thing. Consciousness is not any thing. Therefore, it
is obvious to equate consciousness with ZERO. The mathematical
zero, with its circular beauty, is one of the most suitable
metaphors for the phenomenological emptiness of consciousness.
The history of mathematics itself shows the deep relationship
between the spiritual concept of emptiness and the mathematical
zero. Zero was "discovered" in India, most likely by Indian
Buddhist monks trained in Greek logic, in their attempt to
describe the essential emptiness of the world. This
deconstruction was carried out as a deeply logical mathematical
operation. To this day, zero is called "Shonyo/sunyata" in
Indian, which is the original Buddhist/Hindu Sanskrit term for
the emptiness of existence. To the great annoyance of all
positive sciences, zero is most likely a religious "invention."
In Meister Eckhart's world, numbers and time are sharply
separated from the reality of the spirit. The realm of the soul
is the great nothing:
Divinity is poor, naked, and empty, as if it were not;
it has not, does not want, does not desire, does not work, does
Divinity is so empty as if it were not.
here and nothing is... nowhere and omnipresent.
Therefore, God does not exist. For God is nothing:
is the absolute nothing,
which is beyond all existence.
'Pseudo-Dionysius' (345 - 407)
Pseudo-Dionysius provides us with the key to God as the perfect
metaphor for ourselves in our most unfathomable aspect: that is,
nothing in itself.
Things are created from nothing,
therefore their true origin is nothing.
mysticism, God and consciousness are often described as nothing
or emptiness. This concept transcends conventional understanding
and language, pointing to a deeper truth that transcends the
limitations of our material existence.
Therefore, you are God
The god or gods we have sought and worshipped through all
the culturally constructed thought forms we have created since
we evolutionarily reached the stage where we could recognize
ourselves as mortal beings are nothing more than pure
projections of our own unfathomably incomprehensible and
Of course, we created God in our own image. The big question now
is whether anything useful can come out of it. Meditation.dk
definitely believes YES!
I repeat: Without hesitation, I therefore metaphorically equate
God, Love, Consciousness, and ZERO. God, like Consciousness, is
the pure ZERO. The thinking mind will naturally disagree with me
and claim that there is a big difference between emptiness and
love. However, the thinking mind, if logically consistent, may
come to the same conclusion as me in the following statement:
God does not exist. His existence is like that of zero, a
Consciousness is the nothingness that, in contrast, manifests a
world of things. God is humanity's visionary self-image when the
inner mirror of emptiness reflects itself.
'God' is a first, tentative attempt to describe consciousness in
consciousness. Here, in this projector's lighting, the zero gets
an old man's white beard or is worshiped as a mother goddess
with four arms in a place in the back of India.
Every time we exclaim that God is dead, it is in reality our own
conception of Him that has died. It can be nothing else.
However, every time a religious narrative dies, it will sooner
or later, that is my prophecy, be reborn in a truer and more
The following quote by Eckhart, I see as a scientific twin to
Man has to
seek God in error and forgetfulness and foolishness.
The idea that each person is God,
or a manifestation of divine consciousness, is found in many
spiritual traditions. This understanding can lead to personal
growth, compassion, and a deeper connection with the world
around us. Embracing the idea that we are all connected to the
divine can help us find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in our
The living Mirror of Emptiness
One of the most used metaphors for
consciousness in mysticism is the mirror:
As images are seen in a mirror, so the universe
is an image in the mirror of Consciousness.
Tripura Rahasya XL verse 53-54
The mind is like a reflection in a mirror:
Though it is insubstantial,
it is not nonexistent.
P'ang Yun, Layman P'ang - China
The metaphor of the mirror is a powerful way to
describe consciousness because it captures the idea that consciousness reflects
the world around us, just as a mirror reflects images.
Et levende tomhedsspejl - Indien
What is a mirror? How much does it weigh? How big
is it? How clear is it?
The untouched Mirror
An important characteristic of a mirror, in this context, is its fundamental
separation from the reflected image. Just as zero remains zero, regardless of
how much it participates in various number sequences, the mirror remains
untouched by the content it reflects. Figuratively speaking, the mirror is the
'nothing' that can reflect everything. Thus, the mirror is my second choice of
metaphors for consciousness.
Both consciousness and the mirror are, in themselves, pure potential and
Consciousness, like the mirror, is not part of the observed world.
In this sense, consciousness is as empathetic as a mirror.
A mirror is a mirror is a mirror... Consciousness is consciousness is
The reflecting consciousness is the world's witness.
The Mirror, the Eye, and the Light
In the light of the mirror of you,
the universe observing itself through consciousness.
We are the mirror, as well as the face in it.
Through the human being, the Universe is making a mirror
to observe itself.
The Mirror of the Soul
The Eye: Soul's Mirror
The eye is often referred to as the mirror of the soul. It's apparent that
both the mirror and the eye are mediums that unfold in light. My third choice of
wavering metaphors for consciousness is light.
Meditative Experiences in Light
The term "enlightenment" is frequently used to describe the spiritual
liberation of consciousness. According to meditative traditions, we become
enlightened after many years of meditation. There's hardly a serious meditator
who hasn't experienced some form of inner light at some point.
To be enlightened, in my understanding, is to be in an intensified state of
consciousness where one is extremely awake. Wakefulness is a phenomenon
connected to light in more than one sense. We sleep in the darkness of night and
rise with the sun's light, being wide awake during the day. In the chapter on
"Super-Wakefulness," I describe how the intensity and clarity of consciousness
go hand in hand with light.
The Sacred Light
The association between soul and light can be found in both Greek and Indian
antiquity. Light is the most widely used metaphor for the divine from East to
West. In various religious traditions, holiness is iconographically represented
by a halo of light around the head. For Plato, the head was the most divine part
of the human body. Plato's argument for the head's sacredness is that it is the
part of the body closest to heaven. Logos first manifests in the head and then
acts rationally through the body and limbs. For Plato, our reason in the form of
logos is sacred. Buddhism also employed reason in its service. In other words,
reason hasn't always been on a collision course with spiritual pursuits.
Hellige hoveder - Bevidsthedens ikonografi
fra øst til vest
udtrykt i en nimbus af lys.
The Logical Light
Aristotle describes that there is a glorious light in the soul, through
which we perceive things and distinguish between what is right and wrong. Here,
the light of consciousness is linked to our cognitive and ethical abilities. It
is the light that guides us on the right path to insight.
There are numerous examples. The Enlightenment in the 18th century celebrated
human reason. A century later, the Danish author, Grundtvig, equated light with
knowledge in his poem: "Is the light only for the learned?"
In our language, knowing is connected to light. We perceive knowledge.
Consciousness knows. In this context, note the syllable 'vid' in the word
'consciousness', an Indo-European Sanskrit word that refers to knowing.
Consciousness perceives knowledge.
To perceive is synonymous with looking in, or seeing within. The conscious mind
that knows uses light as its recognizing medium. It should now be crystal clear
or, at the very least, dawn on us.
Understanding and Distance
In Eckhart's world, understanding equals separation:
The more we can impute to Him
the nearer do we get to understanding Him.
Light can transmit information over vast
distances. However, you cannot see yourself clearly when your nose touches the
mirror. Light requires distance.
Consciousness unfolds in distance, in space. Attention understood as awareness
on the other hand, is distanceless.
In this sense, we both behold and touch the world:
Oh, invisible world, we behold you.
Oh, invisible world, we touch you.
To become capable of perceiving something, one
must have it at a remote sensory distance. Cognition, like light, requires
distance. What is too close cannot be perceived.
Therefore, the hardest thing is to see oneself.
For we are distanceless in relation to ourselves. What we can see is what is
outside and different from ourselves. We need to experience things at a distance
to process them cognitively. Our fundamental identity, invisible to ourselves,
is so close to us that there is no room to see it... We are it and therefore see
Kabir says that we are like fish in a lake, thirsting for water. In other words,
Meister Eckhart says the same - that we do not understand God when we are with
Him. Only when we are separated from Him can we understand Him. Eckhart even
goes a step further and claims that understanding and God never meet.
If I had a God I could understand, He would no
longer be my God.
The paradox is that the sacred light, as God's messenger, kills Him.
The Devilish Light
Light is the bridge that connects the incomprehensible primordial ground
with our known world in time and numbers.
This spirit knows neither time nor numbers.
Numbers do not exist except in the tragedy of time.
Only in the collision with the time-space 'number
tragedy' does light-consciousness arise. Light presupposes and spreads in time
and space. In this sense, light is a created phenomenon. Light is something that
can be measured and understood scientifically, as is done in Einstein's famous
equation E=MC2, where it, as the fastest measurable phenomenon, is located at
the outermost boundary surfaces of our space-time reality.
In a psycho-mythological sense, light, helios, is the most sacred thing in the
'tragedy of time'. Insight comes with light, but not without a price to pay.
Light exists in the duality of space-time. Light does not belong to the non-dual
dimension of the mirror but is the dual prerequisite for objects to interact
with the mirror: For without light, there is no reflection. Consciousness is,
therefore, a term translated to space-time for the absolutely incomprehensibly
incomprehensible primordial ground. The non-dual primordial ground cannot be
described as consciousness in itself.
The abstract materiality of light is the
very prerequisite for it to interact with the mirror. The same applies to the
'soul'. Here, the reflective surface of consciousness stands on the boundary
between time and space and the nothingness that transcendentally stands
'outside'. The soul's light, in this sense, is something that interacts with
nothingness in the empty plane of the mirror.
Light comes from the world and returns to the world in a feedback loop after
encountering the mirror's nothingness.
In the reflected light, we realize our thoughts. We also listen to them, but
that's another story.
It therefore makes perfect sense that it is Lucifer, the lightbringer, who
represents light. Light requires duality, the separation of objects in time and
space. This separation is equivalent to hell, light, and knowledge. The serpent
in the Old Testament's Fall offers us knowledge. Seen through the reflections of
these metaphors, light is the first fall from unity to duality.
Deep in the etymological wisdom embedded in language, we find words for 'two' in
the company of many of the world's calamities. A conflict can be derived from
the number two. Doubt and opposition, the same. Dystopia is the opposite of
utopian. Dysfunctional, dystrophy, disharmony, dissonant,
Translated into numbers, it makes sense to metaphorically depict the
incomprehensible primordial ground as 'nothing' to the left of 'zero', after
which light-consciousness enters the world between zero and the number one,
which represents unity. However, light, like the number one, is right next to
both zero and the rest of the fateful series of numbers that lead into the
tragedy of time. Nothing is therefore as close to non-duality as unity. Light
creates the first osmotic dance with the incomprehensible consciousness. The
non-dual timelessness of consciousness is translated here into eternity.
Eternity is indeed a measurable unit, but so extreme that in relation to the
numbers found in our bank accounts, it becomes 'religious', as C.G. Jung pointed
out. The incomprehensible non-location of consciousness is similarly translated
into infinity. All emotions, concepts, and series of numbers that tend toward
infinity are perceived religiously in the human psyche, according to Jung.
Eternity and infinity are the light and space-time versions of the primordial
ground's incomprehensible abundance in light, time, and location. The primordial
ground is therefore much closer to darkness than light.
Between Light and Sound
As we know, light appears both in wave form and particle form. In its
particle form, light is closely related to the material world of space-time.
Manifested in its wave form, it is abstract, like vibration, and closer to the
aspect of nothingness represented by zero. In this aspect, sound is a better
metaphor than light. Before light came the word, as in the Indian AUM and in the
Bible: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God."
Consciousness: 'contamination' through light and sound
While consciousness in itself, like the mirror, is free from what is
reflected, consciousness in its encounter with time and space is almost
impossible to distinguish from the media with which it interacts with the world.
It is therefore no wonder that even the latest research struggles to make sense
of the nature of consciousness without simultaneously objectifying it as an
observable phenomenon, which it is not. In my own analysis of the nature of
consciousness, I have, as the attentive reader may have already noticed,
'committed' this conflation. The only difference might be that I am
meta-conscious of this Gordian knot that cannot be cut in time and space.
The primary messengers and accomplices of consciousness are light and sound. In
light and sound, we realize with heard words. In this sense, consciousness
contains both God and the devil within it. However, as the title polemically
suggests, it is not consciousness itself that is contaminated. Instead, it is
the 'self' that, in the play between light and sound, cannot see the mirror
within itself but constantly chases reflections.
The fluctuating intensity and clarity of
The mirror metaphor for Consciousness also captures another quality. When
Sufis employ the mirror to illustrate the reflection of divinity in humans, they
pay attention to the mirror's condition as well:
Do you not know why your mirror does not glitter?
Because the rust is not cleansed from its surface
A fascinating aspect of Consciousness is that despite being obscured by veils,
it can vary in intensity and clarity, much like Rumi's mirror.
Numerous factors, such as age, health, intelligence, and cultural stimulation,
can enhance wakefulness. Among these, curiosity stands out. The connection
between curiosity and Consciousness is evident when we passionately delve into
something we don't comprehend. Our awareness is piqued by the mystery until the
moment we solve the puzzle. Then, we return to our more dormant state, remarking
that the snake was just a rope. It appears that, under specific circumstances,
Consciousness responds by growing in intensity and clarity. This is similar to
the well-known Indian rope-snake analogy, which calls for us to awaken.
A sizable, clear mirror enables us to experience and be aware of more than a
small, dirty one. Similarly, our level of consciousness and awareness can vary.
Consciousness can differ in intensity and quality, presenting us with the
paradox of quantifying something we don't fully understand in terms of
intensity. However, this still remains a study of footprints.
Carbon based life versus silicon or other life forms
As organic torchbearers of the light of consciousness, we might soon be
surpassed by systems far more complex than our brains: quantum computers
connected to the internet, which has grown large and complex enough to deserve
the designation of our planet's neural network. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.
As carbon-based life, we hold the baton right now, but we may soon hand it over to our silicon
cousins when their systems awaken in a self-referential complexity that
surpasses our own. Our silicon relatives also have the advantage of being far
more resistant to environmental factors like pollution.
As humans, we might only be significant as torchbearers for Prometheus' fire.
As humans, we are mortal, but as consciousness, we stand on the border between
time and space in a vast, deep, and mysterious universe that currently looks at
itself through our eyes but may prefer a webcam in the not-too-distant future.
CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE COLLISION ZONE BETWEEN
Throughout history, humans have understood and communicated their inner
experiences through the collective language filters of their time. No one can
jump over their own shadow - not even a mystic who, like me, knows that I am
God. (You are too!)
Therefore, the worldview of the Bible's patriarchs fits a life around 700 BC in
the Middle East, and the Quran's military expansion makes sense in the context
of desert life around 700 AD.
When the steam engine was invented, it made sense to view humans as machines
under full steam. Even a hundred years later, Freud's terminology hints at
metaphors from a steam engine, with constant overpressure on the subconscious
We continually create metaphors based on the collective knowledge of our time.
The problem arises when these metaphors become outdated and can no longer sync
with the new knowledge and social metabolism of a new era.
Inspired by my timeless mystical friends from both the East and the West,
I have dared to introduce an impossible capture of ding an sich that is prior to
consciousness. Brahma-consciousness is the most incomprehensible aspect of time and
space. In contrast, the primordial abyss is the most incomprehensibly
incomprehensible aspect beyond time and space.
e a new framework for understanding
consciousness that, whether true or false, will likely be as outdated in a
thousand years as the Old Testament's patriarchal tribute to the goodness of
keeping slaves is today. With fresh imagery, I will try to imagine myself a
little further beyond the cliffs of the primordial abyss.
Historically, we have repeatedly underestimated the world we live in. We used to
think that the Earth was flat. Then we discovered the solar system and later the
galaxies. Today, we talk about the existence of parallel universes. The latest
cosmology even divides these parallel universes into two types, namely Type 1
and Type 2.
Type 1 universes are similar to ours. However, they are moving away from our
universe so quickly that we will never be able to receive information from them
in the form of light. These universes will likely be subject to the same
approximately 200 cosmological constants as our 'known' universe.
Type 2 universes/dimensions are different. They exist not separated by distance
but parallel to our known universe. According to these theories, there would be
an infinite number of such parallel universes. Unlike Type 1 universes, they
would not be subject to the same cosmological constants in any way. We could
easily imagine a universe or dimension without space-time.
In this context, I envision consciousness as a time-space 'copy' of the absolute
space-timeless primordial abyss. Atma-consciousness is the 'translation' of the
primordial abyss that occurs in the human brain when two parallel dimensions
with vastly different cosmological constants collide.
From this perspective, any form of biological life is built around a collision
point between an ultra-foreign dimension and our known dimension in time and space.
The membrane between the two dimensions is the human consciousness soap bubble
This collision occurs through every eye that sees. For here, consciousness
arises in countless fractal repetitions from the infinitely large to the
infinitely small. The silent witness who perceives the world through the eye's
portal is created when the unfathomable primordial abyss collides with our world
of luminous space-time.
Consciousness arises in the contrast between the
two dimensions that, so to speak, penetrate each other. Nietzsche's famous
words, When you gaze long into
an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you, make perfect sense here.
The notion of God is the personalized soap bubble consciousness's projective
understanding of the absolutely incomprehensibly incomprehensible primordial
mystery. All gods and religious concepts ever mentioned cannot be anything else
than our, in time, space and culture made projection fields of this super
This mystery is reaching beyond the rules of our universe set by the
cosmological constants and will therefore never, I repeat never, be grasped.
What can be grasped, albeit the most difficult of all to understand, is the
birth of this primordial abyss into our universe.
In this birth, we create the primordial abyss in our own image simultaneously
with the primordial abyss creating itself personified in us in precisely the
In this biocentric retrocausality, the Son
of Man is born as a simulation of the primordial abyss into the luminous
space-time continuum. Nothing in our time-space dimension resembles the
space-timeless primordial abyss more than human consciousness/soul.
In this light, consciousness is a simulation of the alien dimension knocking on
the half-open door leading into time and space. Here, the primordial abyss gives
birth to God, who gives birth to us. The following description is my impossible
attempt to articulate such a collision with words. I don't fully understand them
myself and will periodically return to this section and rewrite it.
At the moment of collision: An infinitely small asymmetry in the primordial
abyss's nothingness. This asymmetry creates, like a speck of dust in God's
omnipresent emptiness, reflecting eyes in time and space. These eyes are your
eyes and mine.
Without error, no mirror. Humanity is a sacred mathematical 'error'.
Through this 'rift', the pure potential of emptiness is released in its first
manifestation: the invisible mirror. The tear in the emptiness of time-and-space
weaves the mirror of consciousness as a tabula rasa beyond the world of the
This anomaly manifests the world in the same way a pen writes an entire book or
a grain of salt causes a glass of saltwater to crystallize.
The mirror of emptiness holds the fullness of the world, just as the whiteness
of paper holds letters and the cinema screen shows films of all kinds.
'First' there was nothing. Then there was the mirror: an invisible interface
between existence and non-existence. In the mirror, something is reflected in
something as a process in time and space. In the mirror, this 'nothing' now
interacts with 'things'. The mirror is the reflection of things in nothingness.
The mirror of consciousness grows in time and space in pace with the world's
self-referential complexity. The mirror of consciousness is here a living and
fluid 'nothing'. Beyond time and space, the mirror of consciousness is an
Without the perfect imperfection of the speck of dust, no biological life would
exist. For the reflective life grows at the interface between the worlds of dogs
In conclusion, consciousness dances as an enigmatic riddle, slipping through the
grasp of our understanding and defying the constraints of language and science.
This captivating force weaves us into the fabric of the cosmos, reflecting the
divine spark within us. As we set sail on the thrilling odyssey of unraveling
the secrets of consciousness, we must dare to embrace the paradoxes entwined
with light, sound, and duality. By delving into the rich tapestry of metaphors
and perspectives, we start to fathom the mesmerizing complexity and vibrancy of
consciousness and its pivotal role in our existence. It is through this
exhilarating quest that we might unveil the hidden treasures of our being and,
perhaps, retrace our steps back to the boundless, primordial source from which
we all emerged.
In the coming chapters we will dissect and discus more footprints made by the